My name is Justin Myers and I am a 24-year-old seminary student who loves to read and write. I married my lovely wife Kasey in 2019 and we became dad and mom to our little boy Emmett in 2020. I am blessed beyond measure with my family of three!
The goal here is simple: to read to learn and to learn to live. And to do it together!
I love to read and spend a lot of my free time doing it. However, I have noticed that I am prone to finish a book and months later fail to remember what much of the book had to offer. Books normally offer at least some form of knowledge, and the good ones offer information that challenges the way we think. The best a book can offer, though, is something that challenges the way we live. These books are the most profitable, and certainly worth retaining! What a shame and disappointment it is to read something so insightful only to forget its contents, and forfeit the ability to think or live in a new light! I hope I am not the only one who struggles with this.
The idea is two-fold. First, I want to write about all things reading, learning and living. I am no expert, but I have thoughts about books and their relevance in life. I enjoy writing too, so what better to write about than reading and how to do it well?
Secondly, my thought is that, by committing to write about what I read, I will solve the problem of books forgotten. So, in one sense, this endeavor is for me. On the other hand, my hope is that it would be beneficial for others as well. The goal would be to provoke the desire to read and think and discuss and live changed lives together, not just as a result of what I read, but what you read too.
The plan is to write about reading under four headings: Read, Reflect, Retain, React. I am not sure I will always use each of those headings as I post, but rather, these ideas will be behind my reading and writing.
I am a fan of reading. I do tend to have "a lane" so to speak regarding the kinds of books I read. Christian theology, Christian history, and Christian living, tend to make up the bulk of my small library. Still, I do read general historical books as well as fiction, and hope to learn more from those genres as well. As a result, this kind of reading is going to inform most—if not all—of the material that shows up on this site. In the end, the goal is to read in order to learn new things! I would also love to know what you are reading and learning, and what recommendations you may have. Feel free to share!
In order to squeeze the most learning out of reading, I do not want to go about doing it uncritically. No one should. I want to reflect and interact with the ideas, stories, metaphors, propositions, allegories and all that a book brings to the reader. Our minds are not blank slates or vacuums. When we have a book in hand, we have a brain that can think as well. We have prior knowledge and life experience that we bring to bear on any reading we consume. I want to question what I am reading in a positive sense. What is the author's purpose or goal or point in writing this? Do I agree with his or her intentions? Is there an argument to follow and does it make logical sense? What is there to agree or disagree with? How does the material relate to what is true and good and beautiful? What does this tell me about the history of the past, the state of the world today, or humanity's trajectory going forward? To me, reading a book without this kind of interaction drastically undermines the value it might offer. To state it positively, reading reflectively increases what you and I might learn from a book.
I am still learning to reflect well and think critically in a constructive way. I hope that this site will help me grow in these skills and encourage the same in you.
Is it not the worst feeling to finish reading something just to find that you cannot remember the main point or some (if not most) of the important details? I loved reading Lord of the Rings. But honestly, there are so many details I do not remember. I can recall being moved by heroic acts of courage and ushered into a story of great triumph over a great evil! Sadly, I cannot remember most of the details that caused my heart to soar to those heights. It makes me sad (thankfully the movies are great!) It is even worse though, when I come to the end of a book that is trying to teach me something plainly, without the literary devices to sift through. To be honest, I have read many books with this unfortunate result, but I would like to retain more of what I read. The goal is to read and learn, and to retain what I have learned by writing it here sharing it with you!
Lastly, the kind of reading that just learns facts is not valuable by itself. Knowing facts and ideas is worthless if that knowledge does not change anything. I believe I heard it from John Piper (so sorry if it was someone else), who said that when we read, we should ask, "So what?" What does this have to do with me and my life? What does this book change or challenge in the way that I think or live? The spirit of these questions is that the goal of all learning should be to grow in wisdom, because wisdom is knowledge applied to how we live. If knowledge is not treated in this way, its worth is minimal and the time spent gaining such knowledge is honestly wasted.
To go on a tangent, this goal of wisdom is the reason why most of my reading centers on Christian topics. There certainly is value in reading other things, but I know Christ to be who Paul describes him to be in Colossians 2:3, the one "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Because this is who Christ is, I think the most profitable reading will involve who he is and what he has done on some level. That is why the Bible is the most special book in all of human history, and the most profitable reading that someone could devote themselves to. This is not to be a dualist and say that Christ has no part in other genres of writing, but just to say that where he is most explicitly discussed, there is most likely quicker access to the knowledge and wisdom found in him. Still, all of history is authored by God, and the world is sustained by his power. Therefore, there is going to be some connection to him in whatever we read. Whether that connection is positive or negative is left to be discovered by the reader.
The point is, I do not find much value in finishing a book that does not change the way I think or live. I want this page to help me in that endeavor. I hope it will do the same for you!
In the end, the goal is to read and reflect on this page so that I might retain and react. The goal is to read to learn, and to have that learning challenge that way that I live. Hopefully, by doing so, this site will encourage the same in you. I hope you are encouraged to read more and to think more! I hope you are changed by what you read, and willing to discuss it with others. The most enjoyable kind of reading and learning happens in community. I hope this medium will provide that for me and for you!